Crunchy Numbers Week 6: Penn State falls again

A schedule update to start things off. After tomorrow afternoon's football coaches luncheon, I am headed to Washington to cover the U.S.-Costa Rica soccer game for the Inquirer.

Many of you have heard by now that star U.S. forward Charlie Davies was seriously injured in a car crash in the early hours of this morning on a highway near the team's hotel in Arlington, Va.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced this evening that Davies suffered a lacerated bladder and fractures to the tibia and femur bones in his right leg. He also suffered facial fractures and a left elbow fracture

You can get more information from the Washington Post, and the Associated Press.

This is obviously a very big deal and it will overshadow tomorrow night's game to no small degree. But the game is of consequence. With a win, the U.S. would finish in first place outright in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time in its history.

Costa Rica will be playing to avoid fourth place, which would put it in a playoff with the fifth-placed team in South America for a World Cup berth. That team could be Argentina if it does not win or tie at longtime rival Uruguay tomorrow.

The U.S. game starts at 8:00 tomorrow, with ESPN2 coming on the air at 7:30. I hope to do a live chat from RFK Stadium during the game, and I'll also have another widget for you bringing in the nationwide conversation on Twitter.

Now for this week's Crunchy Numbers.

The Inquirer's sports department put up a poll last night asking whether the Eagles or Penn State has a softer schedule. I would be seriously inclined to pick the Nittany Lions.

This is the seventh week of Crunchy Numbers this season. In each of the five editions after Penn State's wins, they fell in the Sagarin rankings. In the edition after their loss to Iowa, they rose.

As Mike Kern liks to say, you can look it up.

Now the Nittany Lions are in conference play for the rest of the season. I'll be interested to see if they move up with a win over Minnesota, because it's at home and the Gophers aren't that good.

I'll also be interested to see if Villanova jumps over Rutgers with a win at James Madison. It's a very big game for the Dukes, who narrowly lost to Richmond last weekend. They're now 2-3 overall and 0-2 in CAA play, so they can't lose any more games for the rest of the season if they want to make the playoffs.

And by the way, Sagarin has Columbia beating Penn by four points. Chew on that.

28. Penn State (18)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 152/156 Eastern Illinois, 52-3
This week: 10/17 vs. No. 54 Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Sagarin predicts: Penn State by 8 (79.05 and 3 to to 74.47)

62. Rutgers (56)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 231/224 Texas Southern, 42-0
This week: 10/16 vs. No. 26 Pittsburgh, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Sagarin predicts: Pittsburgh by 5 (79.40 to to 71.40 and 3)

69. Villanova (64)
Last week: Road loss vs. No. 110/81 New Hampshire, 28-24
This week: 10/17 at No. 119 James Madison, 3:30 p.m. (Comcast Network)
Sagarin predicts: Villanova by 6 (70.39 to 61.20 and 3)

90. Delaware (118)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 90/106 Massachusetts, 43-27
This week: 10/17 at No. 181 Towson, 3:30 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Delaware by 15 (65.50 to 47.53 and 3)

96. Temple (97)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 156/157 Ball State, 24-19
This week: 10/17 vs. No. 131 Army, 1:00 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Temple by 10 (64.75 and 3 to 57.94)

147. Lafayette (146)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 174/161 Columbia, 24-21
This week: 10/17 at No. 138 Harvard, 12:00 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Harvard by 6 (57.33 and 3 to 54.56)

172. Penn (167)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 222/229 Bucknell, 21-3
This week: 10/17 at No. 161 Columbia, 1:30 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Columbia by 4 (51.82 and 3 to 49.96)

187. Delaware State (177)
Last week: Home loss vs. No. 228/215 Bethune Cookman, 9-7
This week: 10/17 at No. 37 Michigan, 12:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Sagarin predicts: Michigan by 34 (77.34 and 3 to 46.04)

205. Lehigh (200)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 235/241 Georgetown, 27-0
This week: 10/17 vs. No. 188 Yale, 12:30 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Yale by 1 (45.34 to 41.15 and 3)

214. Princeton (209)
Last week: Home loss vs. No. 142/146 Colgate, 21-14 (2 OT)
This week: 10/17 at No. 160 Brown, 12:30 p.m. (Versus)
Sagarin predicts: Brown by 17 (52.10 and 3 to 38.17)

229. Bucknell (222)
Last week: Road loss vs. No. 167/172 Penn, 21-3
This week: No game